To the Church in Sardis
“The words uttered where not alone for John on the Isle of Patmos, they were not for the churches alone, but through these churches was to come the inspired message for the people, to have its powerful impression in every age to the close of this earth´s history.”
“The application of the various messages to the seven churches to seven consecutive periods of church history naturally suggests the utility of a series of transition dates to facilitate the coordination of the several messages with their respective historical periods.”
The Sardis church covers the historical period of 1517 to 1798, during the time of the Reformation. This period is related to names like John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Johan Hus and Ulrich Zwingli etc.
Rev 3:1. And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, “These things says the one having the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works, that you have a name, and you live, but you are dead.
The seven Spirits of refers back to Rev 1:4. Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.
This text implies that there are three persons in the Godhead. The Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ. When the text says that Christ has the seven Spirits, it means he is combined with the Holy Spirit in the Godhead. Referring to the seven stars, it means Christ is the giver of the messages of the seven angels to the seven churches.
As for the citation, “you have a name, and you live, but you are dead.” This refers to Christians who say they are Christians but do not live it out in their private lives. Therefore, Christ says they are dead, that is spiritually dead.
Rev 3:2. Be watching and keep the remaining things which you were about to throw away, for I have not found your works having been completed before my God.
Although their works were not complete and they were spiritually dead, they were commanded to watch and build on the faith which they had started with.
Rev 3:3. Remember therefore how you have received and heard, hold fast and repent. If therefore you will not watch, I will come upon you like a thief, and you shall not know the hour I shall come upon you.
The Christians in the Sardis church began a life of Christianity from what they have heard and read, but they did not pursue it. Therefore, Christ says remember therefore how you have received and heard, hold fast and repent. If they do not, Christ will come at the Second Coming like a thief in the night to them, when they are not prepared, and they will lose their lives eternally.
Texts to support this view are:
1 Thessalonians 5:2. For you yourselves know perfectly the day of the Lord so comes as a thief on the night. (For those who are in darkness).
1 Thessalonians 5:4. But you brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
2 Peter 3:10. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat – – -.
Rev 16:15. (Armageddon). Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame. (Rev 3:18. 19:8. White garments and fine linen are the righteous acts of the saints).
Rev 3:4-6. You have a few names in Sardis who did not defile their garments, and they will walk with me in white robes, because they are worthy. The ones overcoming, this one will be clothed in white garments and I shall not wipe out his name from the Book of Life, and I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. The one having an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Who are the few who did not defile their garments?
This church is describing the period during the time of the Reformation from 1517-1798.
So who are the few during the Reformation who did not defile their garments?
John Wycliffe. Martin Luther. Jan Huss. John Calvin. Ulrich Zwingli.
What are the white garments a symbol of?
Rev 3:18. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed.
Rev 7:13.14. Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
1 John 1:7. The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Rev 19:8. The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Isaiah 61:10. For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
White garments cover the shame of nakedness of sin. The saints in heaven had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. The robe of righteousness are the garments of salvation.
What is the Book of Life?
Philippians 4:3. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
Rev 13:8. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Him refers to the sea beast representing the Roman Catholic Church System who goes against the ten commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ. Rev 12:17. 14:12).
Rev 20:15. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Rev 22:19. If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life.
The Book of Life is related to the following: Paul´s fellow workers laboring in the gospel. All who dwell on the earth whose names are not written in the Book of Life shall worship the Roman Catholic Church System just before the Second Coming of Christ. Anyone not found in the Book of Life was cast in the Lake of Fire. Anyone who takes away the words of this book (Revelation), God shall take away his part in the Book of Life.
 Ellen G. White, Ellen G. White Diary 1888, 779.3 (Washington D.C.: December 27, 1890).
 Francis D. Nichol, Edit., The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 (Washington D.C.: Review & Herald Pub., Assoc., 1957), 752.